Full Description: Powered by three newly-enhanced Space Shuttle Maine Engines (SSMEs), called the Block II Maine Engines, the Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad on April 8, 2002 for the STS-110 mission. The Block II Main Engines incorporate an improved fuel pump featuring fewer welds, a stronger integral shaft/disk, and more robust bearings, making them safer and more reliable, and potentially increasing the number of flights between major overhauls. NASA continues to increase the reliability and safety of Shuttle flights through a series of enhancements to the SSME. The engines were modified in 1988 and 1995. Developed in the 1970s and managed by the Space Shuttle Projects Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center, the SSME is the world's most sophisticated reusable rocket engine. The new turbopump made by Pratt and Whitney of West Palm Beach, Florida, was tested at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Boeing Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, California, manufactures the SSME. This image was extracted from engineering motion picture footage taken by a tracking camera.
April 8, 2002